Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 6: LOST

After breakfast, Alin and I decided that we'd explore the resort a little. We found our way to the beach and stumbled across some hammocks. Since we had never shared one before, we decided that it would be appropriate to try.

After some careful maneuvering, we managed to both get into one without hurting anyone and relaxed. Alin napped while I read my book until my arms could no longer stay above my head. 

Having sufficiently sun bathed, Alin and I decided to make it back to our room for a short nap before we made our way to the infamous Montezuma waterfalls.

When we finally decided to make our way to the waterfalls, we had no idea what kind of an adventure awaited us. The next 5 hours were some of the most memorable of our lives, but not in a good way.

There are plenty of signs on how to get to the waterfalls. You just follow the road through town, then follow a small stream to a giant open pool of water. This was the third of a series of three cascading waterfalls. This third pool was filled by a  giant waterfall which starts at about 50 feet above us. 

We could have just swam there and relaxed, but we decided to make our way up to the second and first pools. Getting up to the other pools is no easy feat. There were no steps or a guided path. Just trampled vegetation and a smoothed path created by the dozens of visitors who frequent these waterfalls every day. 

Getting up to the top required some careful and deliberate scaling up a side of a hillside, in flip flops no less. After about 30 minutes of hiking and climbing, we finally arrived at the first pool.

The first pool, the smallest of the three, was probably about 15o feet above where we originally started. At this pool, there were other tourists and locals sunbathing, a swing rope where visitors could jump into the water from, and a few flat areas to sit and relax.

The first thing I wanted to do after that hike was to cool off. As soon as I got settled, I took off my shirt, without removing my sun glasses first, and watched as my sun glasses sank to the bottom of the first pool. I tried diving below to find them, but I could never quite reach the bottom. Alin was pretty upset with me for losing those shades. She had recently bought the pair for me and I haven't exactly been very responsible with the other sunglasses I owned. 

We hung out at that first pool for some time before deciding to check out the second waterfall and pool. After gently climbing down, I convinced Alin that we needed to jump down into the pool. The point I chose to jump from was probably about 20-30 feet above the pool. 

After a few minutes of pondering whether or not this was really a good idea, I decided to take the plunge. That last step, when you know there's no turning back was one of the most frightening moments of my life. It was high enough that I was able to curse a few words before hitting the water. Even though I had closed my eyes, the water rushing over my body hit me with such force that the water literally forced itself through my eye lids.

When I finally surfaced, I was thrilled. Alin was cheering for me and I felt great. The focus quickly turned to Alin. It was now her turn to make the leap of faith. This was an ordeal all onto it's own. Alin must have stood there, debating her fate for what felt like 20 minutes, but in actuality was no more than 5. 

Her competitive streak finally took over and she forced herself to jump in. She too was thrilled. It's quite nerve racking when you're up there, looking down, but once you do it – it ain't no thing. 

After some more time swimming, laughing, and playing – we decided it was time to go back. We spoke to some locals about alternate ways of getting back. They told us if we climbed back up to the trail and continued on, that we would arrive at a road which we could follow back to town.

We decided to take them up on their advice and made our way back up to the trail. From there, we continued on, looking for our road. We hiked along that trail, parallel to the river for some time – until finally we arrived at a fence.  We couldn't go left, so we decided to follow the fence to the right.

After a few minutes of hiking, the trail became thinner and thinner until it disappeared. We realized we were going the wrong direction so we thought it best to head back to the trail. Along the way, I stupidly stumbled onto a wasps nest while trying avoid stepping in the mud. Sure enough, the wasps weren't really very happy to see us and made their anger crystal clear. Alin made a run for it, but I was stung several times. 

I was furious, in pain, and we were lost. We followed the trail back for some time, and noticed a fork in the trail. We decided to follow it down to the river. We figured, if there was a road, it would be to the left of the river, so we decided to follow the river north. 

We hiked for some time. The clouds began rolling in, the weather was getting colder, and the sky was getting darker. I figured, after some time, that the road wasn't in this direction so I turned around so we could follow the river back to the waterfalls. 

After about 30 minutes of hiking, Alin started to break down. She was scared. She thought we were going to be lost out here and no one was going to ever find us. I wasn't quite as worried as she was, but that didn't matter. Alin started to cry, very worried that we were going to have to spend the night outside. I tried to comfort her and reassure her that everything would be fine.

After she collected herself some, we continued on down the river. We finally arrived at the first pool. There were still some locals there. We were thrilled to see other people. A huge sense of relief came over the both of us as we realized we had arrived back at a familiar place.

At this point, we decided, no risks, no more adventures. Let's just get home. We hiked back down the way we originally came. It was more dangerous, but it was known to get us where we needed to be.

When we finally got back to our hotel, it was sunset. The sky was getting darker by the minute and we couldn't have arrived a minute too late.

We decided that the best thing we could do is take a nice hot shower, relax, and try and let go of a rather emotionally challenging day.


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